In the Cheap Seats

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 1, 2007 - I sure hate to take Tom Hicks' side when it comes to spending his money, but I am forced to this time.

Ranger fans would like to see Hicks spend, spend, spend - especially when he reneges on his promise to do so - and to his credit, he tried to give his money away to Mark Teixeira. The problem is, Tex didn't want it.

Hicks told the Dallas Morning News that he offered Teixeira $140 million for eight years, and that Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras, turned it down flat. Teixeira then repeatedly told reporters he had not been offered a contract extension.

Under those circumstances, the Rangers had to trade the first baseman. Teixeira made it clear he did not want to be a Texas Ranger, apparently for any amount of money

We've all had reason to doubt Hicks' passion for this team, but I have to admit that $18 million a year for eight years is a genuine offer. Give Hicks and Jon Daniels credit - which I rarely do - for trying to overspend for Teixeira. You can throw money at a guy, but if he doesn't pick it up, then what can you do?

The baseball pundits, who know more about Braves and Red Sox minor leaguers than I ever will, say Daniels did a credible job in his trade deadline dealings.

In exchange for Teixeira and Eric Gagne, the Rangers picked up the top three prospects in the Atlanta organization and a left-handed starting pitcher who immediately goes into the major league rotation. Add in two Triple A players, a fast-rising shortstop and some other minor league arms, and the Rangers have at least started to restock their lower level affiliates.

The main knock on the Rangers' June draft and this week's dealings is the number of low-level players they acquired. A lot can happen to a kid in between Class A and the major leagues. That's why the Rangers have four Class A affiliates and only one Triple A team.

That's also why it hurts when you have to trade a switch-hitting, Gold Glove caliber first baseman - you never know if he can be replaced. But, Teixeira gave the Rangers no other options. By trading him now, the Rangers were able to maximize his asking price. Let's just hope Daniels got the players in return who will make the trade a positive one for the Rangers.

The flip side of the coin is that with Teixeira's $12 million salary off the table for next year, it's up to Hicks to pony up legitimate free agent money in the offseason. Torii Hunter will be a free agent and lives in the metroplex. If the Rangers don't sign him to take care of center field and the lead-off spot, then we'll know again that Hicks isn't in it to win it.

It's too bad the Mavericks weren't able to turn the same kind of block buster trade to pick up Minnesota's Kevin Garnett. At least Garnett didn't end up with Phoenix or Los Angeles or some other Western Conference team, but when he was dealt to Boston, the Mavericks missed out on an opportunity to add a franchise-type player.

I still believe it's going to be tough for the Mavericks to go into the season with virtually the same team as last year. After postseason collapses the last two years, the Mavericks need to upgrade their mental and physical toughness. Garnett would have done that.

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